The Dos and Don’ts of Shampooing
A hair wash is so much more than just cleaning our hair, it’s like therapy for all us. It seems almost impossible to think that there are right and wrong ways of doing it. Read along if you wish to know how you can enjoy your hair wash without worrying about damaging it.
The fact is we might be over washing our hair and causing damage to it without even realising. Most people do not need to shampoo their hair and scalp daily or every other day, because shampoo can strip the hair of necessary and beneficial natural oils.
The general consensus is that you should wash your hair once it feels unclean and it’s oily.
Does washing your hair often cause hair loss?
When washing your hair with a harsh shampoo too often you might strip too much oil (or sebum) from your scalp. Your hair needs this oil to stay moisturised, otherwise it can become dry1, brittle and more prone to breakage. If left untreated, the hair can start to fall out extensively. Washing more often can also mean increased use of heat styling tools, which can also damage the hair.
Keep the hair healthy by choosing gentler shampoos that maintain the scalp and keep the hair moisturised.
Signs you might be washing your hair too much
If you’re not sure if you’re over washing, your hair might give you a sign or two to tell you it needs a bit of a break. As we mentioned previously, dry hair is one of the consequences of washing too often – this is easy to spot because your hair will become frizzy and coarse to touch. You might get split ends quicker than before and your hair could lose its shine and become dull due to the lack of oils.
You might also get dandruff. This occurs when your scalp is dry and itchy, so by scratching you start shedding skin cells. If your hair is coloured you might notice that your hair colour is fading quicker than expected. It’s important to use a special shampoo and conditioner for coloured hair.
5 factors that influence how often to wash your hair
Even though the general advice is that you don’t really need to wash your hair daily. Experts are divided on how often we should be washing our hair, but a general rule to follow is every two to three days. There are certain factors that may cause the hair to get greasier more quickly.
1. Oil production
When we think of dirty hair we mostly think of greasy, oily hair. Our scalp produces sebum that moisturises and protects the skin. Sebum production depends on various factors like age, gender, genetics and your environment.
Oil levels increase from our teenager years into our 20s and 30s, then start to decline as we age. So people who have reached middle age might think that they need to carry on washing their hair as often as before but this might be more damaging to their scalp and hair.
2. Type of hair
How often you need to wash your hair also depends on the texture of your hair. Hair that is straight and fine will need to be washed more often because the oil can coat the hairs more easily and it ‘slides down’.
Curly, wavy or thicker hair will generally be drier because the sebum cannot coat the whole hair, therefore it does not need to be washed that often. Afro hair should be washed the least often, ideally between 7-10 days to make sure the scalp and hair are clean of build-up, but also to avoid stripping it from all the natural oils.
Sweating profusely can also make the hair feel dirty and oily, as the sweat can spread the sebum on the hair strands more easily. For example, those who exercise more would feel more inclined to wash their hair more often.
Working in highly polluted environments or doing tasks like gardening or cleaning might leave your hair in need of a wash. Dust, dirt and pollen can get trapped in the hair leaving it dull, dirty and having an unpleasant smell.
5. Using hair styling products
Using hair styling products like creams, gels, sprays can often lead to build up on the scalp and therefore leave the hair feeling dirtier. So if you want to break the over washing cycle, try using less product when styling your hair.
Essentially, the less you wash your hair, the less you’ll need to wash your hair.
If you gradually reduce the number of times you wash each week, you’ll find over time your hair will need to be cleaned less frequently, but will still continue to look and feel healthy.
To achieve this it’s important to minimise how often you use styling tools such as curlers or straighteners and limit the amount of hair products going on your head. If your hair is prone to oiliness, consider using some dry shampoo on your roots to soak up excess oil instead of a full wash.
When it comes to looking after stressed out hair, the right shampoo can make a world of difference. Definitely avoid sulphates, as they dry out your hair and cause frizz, they can also strip the natural oils from hair which keep it moisturised and luscious.
Can shampoo and conditioner damage your hair?
Some shampoos and conditioners themselves can also contribute to hair damage. Using large quantities of shampoo while washing dry hair can remove the moisture you desperately need, making your hair even more susceptible to damage.
This issue can be made worse by accidentally using harsher shampoos, such as clarifying or volumizing products, when you don’t need to. Conditioner is the key to keeping your hair healthy and nourished, but similarly over-conditioning can prevent natural serums and oils from working effectively. The best practice is to only use a small quantity, leave conditioner in for three to five minutes and to rinse thoroughly.
Alternately, you can skip conditioner all together and opt for a nutrient-rich hair serum (look for something with argan or macadamia nut oil in it). Remember: your next good hair day isn’t reliant on whether you use conditioner but, how you use it!